Voting hides a familiar puzzle. Many people take the trouble to vote even though each voter's prospect of deciding the election is nearly nil. Russians vote even when pervasive electoral fraud virtually eliminates even that slim chance. The right to vote has commonly been won by protesters who risked death or injury even though any one protester could have stayed home without lessening the protest’s chance of success. Could people vote or protest because they stop considering their own chances and start to think about an identity shared with others? If what they hear or read affects political identity, a shift in political discourse might not just evoke protests and voting but also make the minority that has imposed the dictator’s will suddenly lose heart. During the Soviet Union’s final years the cues that set communist discourse apart from standard Russian sharply dwindled. A similar convergence of political discourse with local language has preceded expansion of the right to vote in many states around the globe. Richard D. Anderson, Jr., presents a groundbreaking theory of what language use does to politics.
Richard D. Anderson, Jr., is a Professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he has served on the faculty since 1989. Before earning the doctorate in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, he spent nine years in Washington, DC, as an intelligence analyst researching Soviet military capability and as a staff member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and later of the Budget Committee assigned to the office of Rep. Les Aspin. He also holds a Master’s in International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and is a graduate of Davidson College.
’This book certainly helps to fill in the niche of the complicated interdisciplinary study of the interrelation between political language and dictatorship. What is more, the author has succeeded in making it must-do reading for experts in political linguistics and equally understandable and enjoyable for all those interested in international politics, communication, and language. Through the rich content of the chapters and his globalized approach, Anderson enriches us with a critical and scientific analysis of a subject that is highly topical but unfortunately seldom chosen by scholars.’ Christ’l De Landtsheer, University of Antwerp, Belgium ’An imaginative and important advance in the study of political language. Using theory and case studies from around the world, Anderson shows how changes in political discourse strongly foreshadow advances in democracy.’ Francis A. Beer, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado, USA '... a valuable empirical contribution to the interdisciplinaty subject of political discourse. ... a very useful and stimulating resource for a better understanding of Russia's transition from Soviet rule and that countty's place within broader global patterns of shifts between repressive dictatorships and more inclusive democratic political systems and identities.' Russian Review